Peace hangs in uncertain balance, as everyone must note with sadness and alarm. Moreover, people’s hearts and minds are kept in a state of anxious suspense. Not in  a few nations the social classes are being incited to mutual hatred as their continuous rioting and agitation plainly threaten to subvert the very foundations of civil society.

With this scene of disaster and misery before us we cannot but feel compelled to entreat all nations to make peace as friends and urge all Christians to storm heaven with more fervent prayers, never forgetting that all efforts are inadequate and unavailing if God’s good pleasure is not first obtained, according to the inspired words of the Psalmist: ‘unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.’1

The crisis is most serious indeed. Remedies must be found, and found without further delay. On the one hand the economic system of many countries has been dislocated and weakened to such an extent as

  • to be powerless to meet the problems with which it is faced, and
  • to provide the materials for appropriate constructive enterprise, where work might be available for the unemployed who now must live their lives in forced and fruitless idleness.

On the other hand there is no lack of those who embitter and exploit the working man in his distress.

Those who deliberately and rashly plan to incite the masses to tumult or infringement of the liberty of others are certainly not helping to relieve the poverty of the people but are rather increasing it by fomenting mutual hatred; this can even lead to complete chaos.

At the same time it is the duty of all to realise that the world crisis is so serious today and so menacing for the future that it is imperative for all, especially the rich, to place the common welfare above their private advantage and profits.

But it must be clearly and constantly borne in mind that the first and most urgent need is to reconcile the hearts of men, to bring them to fraternal agreement and cooperation, so that they may set to work upon plans and projects in keeping with the demands of Christian teaching and needs of the present situation.

Let all remember that the flood of evil and disaster that has over-taken the world in past years was due chiefly to the fact that the divine religion of Jesus Christ, that provider of mutual charity among citizens, peoples and nations, did not govern, as it should, private, domestic and public life.

  • If things have gone wrong on account of the desertion from Christ, public and private life must return to Him as soon as possible:
  • if error has clouded the minds of men, they must return to that truth which, revealed from on high, indicates the right way to heaven:
  • if hatred has brought them fatal results, they must return to Christian love which alone can heal their many wounds, and carry them over the crisis so filled with danger.

At this time then we think it opportune to exhort all Christians to pray the Divine Infant to be pleased to ward off the threats of impending struggles and to quench the torches of revolt.

  • May He illumine with light from above minds which are less often moved by stubborn malice than deceived by errors under the semblance of truth;
  • May He repress and soothe rancour in men’s minds, compose discords and give new life and vigour to Christian charity.
  • May He teach those who are wealthy, generosity to the poor, and
  • May He console by His example and aid from on high those who are in need and distress and lead them to desire above all those heavenly gifts which are more precious and lasting

During the present difficulties, we place much trust in the prayers of innocent children for whom the Divine Redeemer cherishes a special love. Let them raise to Him their limpid voices and tiny hands, tokens of interior innocence, in united prayer, imploring peace, harmony and mutual charity.

To their fervent prayers, We desire them to add the works of Christian piety and those gifts of Christian generosity which may placate the Divine Justice offended by so many crimes, and, as their means allow, bring relief to the needy.

 

Adapted and edited from OPTATISSIMA PAX, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII, 18 December 1947
1 Ps.126,1.

This article can be found in Mirror 0117.